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Full text of "The battle of Groton Heights: a story of the storming of Fort Griswold, and the burning of New London, on the sixth of September, 1781"



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A Story of the Storming of 
Fort Griswold. 







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CONTAINING ALSO 



THE NARRATIVE OF RUFUS AVERY, 

From the Original Manuscript, 
AND OTHER INTERESTING MATTER. 

HANDSOnELY ILLUSTRATED BY FULL=PAOE ENQRA VINOS. 



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THE 



Battle of Groton Heights 



J^ STORY OF THE 



STORMING OF FORT GRISWOLD, 



AND THE 



Burning of :n^ew London, 

ON THE 

SIXTH OF SEPTEMBER, 1781. 
BY REV. N. H. BURNHANl. 



CONTAINING ALSO 



THE NARRATIVE OF RUFUS AVERY, 

(FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT) 
AND 

STATEMENT OF AVERY DOWNER, M. D. 

TOGETHER WITH 

BIOGRAPICAL SKETCHES OF COL. WILLIAM LEDYARD 
AND MOTHER BAILEY, 

INCLUDING A 
POEM BY LEONARD WOOLSEY BACON, 

Delivered on the Centennial Anniversary of the Battle of Groton Heights, September (i, 1881. 



NEW LONDON. CONN.: 

Bingham Paper Box Co.'s Print, Mountain Avenue. 
1903. 



The Qroton Monument. 




The Groton Monument. 



MOVED by the patriotic sentiments which the memury of such 
a day in our national history as September 6th, 1781, is 
calculated to arouse, " a number of gentlemen in Groton, in 
the year 1826, organized an association for the purpose of erecting 
a monument." This simple memorial shaft is composed of granite 
quarried from the same soil which those to whom it is dedicated, 
defended with their lives. The corner stone was laid September 6th, 
1826, and the monument was dedicated September 6th, 1830, in a 
manner befitting the place and the occasion. 

During the centennial year of 1881, the height, originally one 
hundred and twenty-seven feet, was extended, so that the column now 
measures one hundred and thirty-five feet. Other important improve- 
ments were also made. The monument is in form an obelisk, twenty- 
two feet square at base of the shaft, and eight and one-half feet at 
the base of the pyramidion, resting on a die twenty-four feet 
square, and this again on a base twenty-six feet square. The top is 
reached by a circular stairway of one hundred and sixty-six steps, and 
is two hundred and sixty-five feet above the waters of the Thames. 
From the apex a picture of unrivaled beauty presents itself, covering 
the opposite bank of the river, the hills to the west of Montville, and 
extending far out over the waters of Long Island Sound, as well as 
Fishers Island Sound and Fishers Island. 

The original marble slab inserted in the west wall of the die 
contained the following insciiption : 

This Monument 

Was erected under the patronage of the State of Connecticut, A. D. 1830, 

and in the 55th year of the Independence of the U. S. A. 

/;/ Ahmory of the Brave Patriots 

who fell in the massacre of Fort Griswold near this spot 

on the 6th of September, A. D. 1781, 

when the British under the command of 

the traitor Benedict Arnold, 

burnt the towns of New London & Groton, and spread 

desolation and woe throughout this region. 

The visitor to the scenes of Fort Griswold should not fail to 
note the well, which is the same existing at the time of the massacre, 
and to which dying men " in fevered anguish wistfullj- turned and 
vainly craved of the implacable Briton its cooling draught." 



4 The Groton Moftuf?ient. 

On the left of the entrance and enclosed by an iron fence is a 
granite slab marking the spot where Colonel Ledyard fell, and bearing 
the inscription : 



ON THIS SPOT 

COL. WILLIAM LEDYARD 

FELL BY HIS OWN SWORD IN THE HANDS 

OF A BRITISH OFFICER TO WHOM HE HAD 

SURRENDERED IN THE MASSACRE OF 

FORT GRISWOLD, SEPT. 6, I781. 



In the year 1893, the Groton Monument Association applied to 
the State Legislature for an appropriation of five thousand dollars, 
which was promptly granted. This appropriation was expended in 
needed repairs upon the monument and in extensive improvements 
on the adjacent grounds. A panel of white bronze bearing the same 
inscription as the former marble slab, which had become cracked and 
otherwise defaced, was inserted in the same place in the monument 
as that occupied by the one removed. The above repairs were com- 
pleted in the early part of 1 894. 

Recently the Anna Warner Bailey Chapter of the Daughters of 
the American Revolution, through their regent, applied for the use of 
the stone house adjoining the monument, as a repository for such 
revolutionary relics and mementos as are now, or shall hereafter come 
into their possession, and for other purposes. 

Thus the Groton Monument stands today as a shrine, to which 
all who dwell beneath its shadow may often turn, or to which they 
may welcome those who, as pilgrims, shall visit it to learn or to recall 
the cherished names and mighty deeds of those brave men, to whom 
it has been erected as a constant and enduring memorial. 



The Battle of Groton Heights. 



THE Battle of Groton Heights, fought September 6th, 1 781, well 
deserves to be ranked with the contest at Lexington and Bunker 
Hill — those famous preludes to Saratoga and Yorktown. In 
this conflict, as in those, the heroic patriotism of our Revolutionary 
sires was displayed with a simple and touching grandeur that must 
ever awaken in the heart of every true American feelings of the deep- 
est gratitude and admiration. 

To outward seeming the battle was a defeat. In reality it was a 
glorious victory, whose every incident is worthy of being treasured up 
among the precious memorials of those revolutionary days. A small 
band of patriotic warriors defending their own and the liberties of 
thousands, yet unborn, against the forces of tyranny and oppression, 
such was the contest upon which the sun looked down on that memor- 
rable September day, more than a hundred years ago. While, on the 
other hand, the foes of the liberty strove with an equally clear and 
determined purpose. 

Sir Henry Clinton, greatly chagrined at the manner in which he 
had been outwitted by General Washington, determined to retrieve 
his error by striking a decisive blow that should at once and forever 
deliver the high seas from the hated presence and depredations of 
those bold and adventurous American privateers, whose daring and 
successful exploits had so grievously injured British commerce, and so 
exasperatingly insulted and persistently defied British pride and 
British power. And, since from its harbor there had gone forth multi- 
tudes of these determined and successful opponents of the royal cause, 
upon their return had found a ready mart for their prizes and spoil 
among its townspeople, it was determined to make a bold and resolute 
attack upon New London. And thus, at the same time, to satisfy the 
desire for revenge and the thirst for plunder, a plunder most rich. 
"The cargo of the merchant ship Hannah alone being valued at four 
hundred thousand dollars." 

For this expedition great preparations were made and the com- 
mand of it shrewdly given to that Judas of the Revolution, Benedict 
Arnold, who, in September, 1780, had "deserted the American cause 
and had been received into the British service with the rank of Briga- 
dier General." 

It was the fleet of thirty-two sail, bearing the troops to their desti- 
nation, that Sergeant Rufus Avery discovered from his lofty station in 
Fort Griswold at the earhest dawn of that renowned September morn- 
ing. Instantly informing his superior officer, Capt. William Latham, 

5 



6 The Battle of Grotori Heights. 

of the fact, the latter at once perceived the urgency of the case and 
sent a messenger immediately to Col. William Ledyard, under whose 
command Forts Griswold and Trumbull and the adjacent harbor then 
were. To this summons Col. Ledyard quickly responded. On em- 
barking to cross from New London to Fort Griswold he remarked to 
friends gathered around him, "If I have this day to lose either life or 
honor, you who know me best know which it will be." On his arrival 
he "ordered," says Sergeant Avery, "two large guns to be loaded 
with heavy charges of good powder, etc." Of one of these Capt. 
Latham took charge and the worthy Sergeant of the other, directing it 
"so as to give a 'larum' to the country in the best manner that could 
, be done." "Two guns," he tells us, "was the regular 'larum,' but the 
enemy understood that and they discharged a third gun, similar to 
ours and timed it alike, which broke our 'larum,' which discouraged 
our troops from coming to our assistance." 

A few hours later began that conflict destined to put the constancy 
and valor of both soldiers and citizens to a test as terrible as it was 
severe. The invading army disembarked on either side of the river. 
Those upon the west shore being under the immediate command of 
General Arnold, and proceeding on their march with no other evidence 
of an enemy's presence than the salute "with one volley" from the 
guns of the battery by Capt. Shapley and his brave men from Fort 
Trumbull. The latter he then abandoned, after spiking its guns, and 
proceeded to embark his forces in three boats, one of which was taken 
by the enemy. Seven of his men were also wounded before they suc- 
ceeded in gaining the kindly protection of Fort Griswold on the oppo- 
site shore. No other course was left to the patriot Captain, since Fort 
Trumbull was at best only "a water battery," enth'ely unable to resist 
the attack of an opposing military force. 

In the meantime another portion of the British troops hod effected 
a landing under their commander, Col. Eyre, upon the eastern shore, 
at Groton Point. After a somewhat retarded march these troops 
were formed m line " under the lee of a rock)^ height one hundred and 
thirty yards southeast from the fort." From this place "a flag of 
truce " was despatched demanding the immediate and unconditional 
surrender of the fortress. Their demand was refused as was also a 
second coupled with the threat that "if obliged to storm the works, 
martial law should be put in force." To this the instant response was 
returned, "We shall not surrender, let the consequences be what they 
may." In answer to this brave defiance the enemy at once pressed 
forward to the attack, " with a quick step in solid columns," eight 
hundred men against a hundred and fifty ! Yet this small band of 
patriots, animated by the justice of their cause and by the hope of 
promised reinforcements, prepared to offer their foes a brave and 
resolute resistance. " Col. Ledyard ordered his men to reserve their 



The Battle of Groton Heights. 7 

fire until the detachment which came up first had reached the proper 
distance." When the word was given an eighteen pounder loaded 
with two bags of grape shot was opened upon them, and it was sup- 
posed that twenty men fell to the ground killed or wounded by that 
first discharge." " It cleared," said an eye-witness, " a wide space in 
their c6lumn." Their line now became so broken that the fields in 
every direction were " covered with scarlet-coated soldiers with trailed 
arms, in every variety of posture, bending, prostrate, dropping, half- 
up, rushing forward, and still keeping a kind of order." Again they 
attempt the assault, in order to seize upon the southwest bastion of 
the fort, only to be met with the same deadly and persistent fire as be- 
fore, while they bear from the field their commander, CoL Eyre, 
mortally wounded. 

At the same moment a still fiercer conflict is taking place on the 
northeast side of the fort. Major Montgomery having lead his 
soldiers in solid ranks through the abandoned redoubt, from whence 
rushing with "great fury" into the ditch below he seizes and holds it, 
and a moment later the rampart, defended by bent pickets and so 
high the soldiers could not scale it " without assisting each other." 
Nor was this all, for the Americans, unable to oppose the progress of 
the besiegers, otherwise showered upon their heads " cold shot nine 
pounders and every variety of missile that could be seized upon." In 
the language of another, " the vigor of the attack and the defence 
were both admirable." At this point Major Montgomery was killed, 
and the fury of his troops was redoubled. 

At last, by sheer force of numbers, all opposing obstacles were 
overcome, and one of the gates being forced, the enemy rushed in 
like a flood, "swinging their caps and shouting like mad-men." 
Though the patriots had surrendered and thrown down their arms, 
their brutal adversaries continued to " fire upon them from the para- 
pets and to hew down " all whom they encountered as they hastened 
to " unbolt the southern gate." No sooner is this done than the voice 
of a British officer is heard demanding in stern tones : " Who com- 
mands this fort.'' " " I did, sir, but you do now," is the reply of the 
the American Commander, at the same time presenting his sword in 
token of surrender. Seizing it, his military assassin, said to be a 
Major Bromfield, or Bloomfield, without a word, plunged it up to the 
hilt into the heart of his noble but too trusting foe. The attendant 
soldiers with their bayonets completed the bloody deed. Thus per- 
ished, in the forty-third year of his age, one of the most illustrious 
martyrs of American liberty. Like scenes were being enacted in 
other parts of the fort. "As the British marched in," says a recent 
historian, "company after company, they shot or bayoneted every 
American they saw standing." " Three platoons, each of ten or twelve 
men, fired in succession into the magazine amid the confused mass of 



8 The Battle of Grotoii Heights. 

living men, that had fled thither for shelter, the dying and the dead," 
The only reason, it would seem, that an explosion did not take place 
was the fact that the powder scattered about was too wet with human 
blood to ignite. So awful was the carnage and plunder that even the 
British officers could no longer endure the sight. One of them is said 
to have been seen rushing about everywhere, with drawn sword, 
exclaiming: "Stop! stop! in the name of heaven, stop! my soul 
can't bear it! " Satiated with plunder and blood, the invaders finally 
began a hasty retreat from the place they had filled with so much of 
death and horror. 

Stripping the dead patriots, about eighty-four in number, paroling 
the most dangerously wounded, to the number of thirty-five, they drove 
the remaining thirty, "most of them wounded," before them as 
prisoners of war. But, brutal as they were, they shrank from leaving 
them to their fate, that of being blown up with the fort (for a train of 
powder had already been set from the barracks to the magazine) the 
defenseless men whom they had just paroled. Gathering them to- 
gether, therefore, with no gentle hand, they fling them into an ammu- 
nition wagon. Fastening a chain about it, they dragged it a short 
distance down the hill, and then "darting aside" allowed it to rush 
madly downward with its freight of wounded and bleeding men, caring 
neither whether it was dashed to pieces upon the stones by the way, 
or engulfed in the river that flowed at the foot of the declivity, which, 
no doubt, would have been the case but for the trunk of an apple tree 
near the bottom of the descent, that proved a friendly obstacle. " For 
more than an hour" the sufferers in the wagon remained helpless and 
in great agony in the place where it had been arrested in its course. 
They were then carried into the house of Ensign Avery — one of their 
number — which was near by. (The house is still standing.) But help 
was near at hand. Good Doctor Joshua Downer, with his son Avery, 
was hastening to the assistance of the heroes who needed it so greatly. 
In the morning he had perceived the smoke of burning New London, 
and at once started from his home in Preston for the scene of conflict. 
On his way to the Avery house, and possibly not far from it, he met 
and bound up the wounds of several of the slightly wounded patriots, 
and among them Mr. Benjamin Bill, and others. Upon the following 
morning Dr. Downer was joined in his work of mercy by a band of 
those noble women, of whom it is the proud wish of so many women 
in our day to be called the "Daughter." These ministered to the 
suffering patriots with the care and tenderness which only a woman's 
hand can bestow and only a woman's heart can feel. Such is the 
picture of the battle of Groton Heights. May it remain engraved 
forever in our hearts ! 




Captain Adam Shapley, "Immortal in his Torr.b. 



The Battle of Groton Heights. 



Names of the Heroes who Fell at Fort Griswold 

September 6th, 1781. 



Collected and Alphabetically Arranged by Charles Allyn * 

Lieutenant-Colonel William Ledyard, Commanding. 

Captain Elijah Avery, ------- Groton 

Captain Elisha Avery, ------ Groton 

Lieutenant Ebenezer Avery, ----- Groton 

Ensign Daniel Avery, ------ Groton 

Sergeant Christopher Avery, ----- Groton 

Sergeant Jasper Avery, ------ Groton 

Sergeant Solomon Avery, ------ Groton 

David Avery, -------- Groton 

Thomas Avery, -------- Groton 

Captain Samuel Allyn, - - - Ledyard - Groton 

Captain Simeon Allyn, - - Ledyard - - Groton 

Belton Allyn, ----- Ledyard - Groton 

Benadam Allyn, - - - - Ledyard - - Groton 

Nathaniel Adams, ^ - - - - - ^ - - Groton 

Captain Hubbard Burrows, ------ Groton 

Sergeant Ezekiel Bailey, ------ Groton 

Corporal Andrew Billings, - - Ledyard - - Groton 

Andrew Baker, - - - - Ledyard - Groton 

John P. Babcock, - - - - - - - Groton 

John Billings, -------- Preston 

Samuel Billings, -------- Groton 

William Bolton, ------- jSjew London 

John Brown, -------- Groton 

Jonathan Butler, ------- Saybrook 

Lieutenant Richard Chapman, ----- New London 

Sergeant Eldredge Chester, ----- Groton 

Daniel Chester, -------- Groton 

Jedediah Chester,^ ------- Groton 

Frederic Chester,3 ------- Groton 

* From his Battle of Groton Heights. 

1 This name is Nathan in some accounts. 

2 I find this name in the list prepared by Rufus Avery, and also that by Benadam Gallup, but not 
on the monument. 

3 This name is on the monument; no trace elsewhere. 



lo The Battle of Groton Heights. 

John Clark, - - - - - - - - - New London 

Elias Coit,i .-....-- New London 

Lieutenant James Comstock, . . . - . New London 

William Comstock, ------- Saybrook 

Philip Covin, -------- Groton 

Daniel Davis, -------- Groton 

Daniel Eldredge,^ ------- Groton 

Jordan Freeman (colored), ----- Groton 

Captain Elias Henry Halsey,3 ----- Long Island 

Samuel Hill, ----- Ledyard - Groton 

John Holt, Jr., -------- New London 

Sergeant Rufus Hurlburt, - - Ledyard - Groton 

Eliday Jones, -------- Groton 

Moses Jones, ----- Ledyard - Groton 

Benoni Kenson, -------- New London 

Barney Kinney,4 .-.---- New London 

Captain Youngs Ledyard, ------ Groton 

Captain Cary Leeds, s ------ Groton 

Lieutenant Joseph Lewis, - - Ledyard - - Groton 

Ensign John Lester, - - - Ledyard - Groton 

Daniel D. Lester,^ ------- Groton 

Jonas Lester, -------- Groton 

Wait Lester, ...----- Groton 

Thomas Lamb, ------- Groton 

Lambo Latham (colored), ------ Groton 

Captain Nathan Moore, ------ Groton 

Corporal Edward Mills, ------ Groton 

Corporal Simeon Morgan, - - Ledyard - Groton 

Thomas Miner,? - - - - Ledyard - - Groton 

Joseph Moxley, - - - . Ledyard - Groton 

Corporal Luke Perkins, Jr., - Ledyard - - Groton 

David Palmer, -------- Groton 

Elisha Perkins, _ - - - Ledj'ard - - Groton 

Luke Perkins, ----- Ledyard - Groton 

Asa Perkins, - - - - Ledyard - - Groton 

Elnathan Perkins, - - - - Ledyard - Groton 

Simeon Perkins, - - - - Ledyard - - Groton 

Captain Peter Richards, ------ New London 



1 On the monument slab as Ellis. 

2 Wounded; carried away prisoner; returned sick, and died December nth. Not on the monu- 
ment. 

3 On the monument Henry Halsey. 

4 On the monument Kenny 

5 This man was wounded, and died December 28th. Not on the monument. 

6 On monument Taniel C. 

7 On the tombstone INIinard, which seems to be an error, as his descent is from Clement Miner. 



The Battle of Groton Heights. 1 1 

Captain Adam Shaple}^ -.-... New London 

Captain Amos Stanton, - - - Ledyard - Groton 

Lieutenant Enoch Stanton, ------ Stonington 

Sergeant Daniel Stanton, ----- Stonington 

Sergeant John Stedman, - - Led^^ard - - Groton 

Sergeant Nicholas Starr, . , _ _ - Groton 

Corporal Nathan Sholes, - - Led^-ard - - Groton 

Thomas Starr, Jr. ------ - Groton 

David Seabury, - - - . Ledyard - - Groton 

Captain John Williams, ------ Groton 

Lieutenant Henry Williams, - Ledyard - - Groton 

Lieutenant Patric Ward, ------ Groton 

Sj'lvester Walworth, ------- Groton 

Joseph Wedger, - - - - Ledyard - Groton 

Thomas Williams, -.---_- Stonington 

Daniel Williams, ^ ------- Saybrook 

John Whittlesey, - - ----- Saybrook 

Stephen Whittlesey, - - - - - - - Saybrook 

Christopher Woodbridge, ------ Groton 

Henry Woodbridge, ------ Groton 

Total, 88. 



NAMES OF THE WOUNDED. 
Paroled and Left at Home. 

"A particular Account of the Men that were Wounded at Fort Gris- 
wold, ift the Battle with the British, on the 6th of September, 1781,- 
tvho were Paroled by Captai7i Bloomfield , and Ebenezer Ledyard, 
Esq., was taken as Hostage to see them forthcoming, if called for." 
In the presence of Rufus Avery. 



Lieutenant Parke Avery, Jr., lost one eye, - 

Ensign Ebenezer Avery, in the head, 

Amos Avery, in the hand, - - - - 

John Daboll, Jr., in the hand, - 

Ensign Charles Eldridge, knee, - 

Daniel Eldridge, shot through neck and face, 

Christopher Eldridge, in the face, 

Samuel Edgcomb, Jr., in the hand, - 

Andrew Gallop,* in the hip, 

Robert Gallup,* in the body, 

Sergeant Stephen Hempstead, in the body. 

Corporal (Jehial) Judd, in the knee, 



Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

Groton 

New London 

Hebron 



I Not on the monument. 

* The name is in the original manuscript, but has never been given in any printed list. — A. 



12 The Battle of Groto?i Heights. 

Captain William Latham, in the thigh, - - - Groton 

Captain Edward Latham, in the body, - - - Groton 

Jonathan Latham Jr.,* body, - - - - - Groton 

Christopher Latham, Jr., body, - . . . Groton 

Frederick Moore, ^ body, - - - - - Groton 

John Morgan, in the knee, . - . . _ Groton 

Jabish Pendleton, in the hand. ----- Groton 

Captain Solomon Perkins, in the face, - - - Groton 

Lieutenant Obediah Perkins, in the breast, - - Groton 

Ebenezer Perkins, in the face, - . . . Groton 

Elisha Prior, in the arm, ------ Groton 

Lieutenant William Starr, in the breast, - - - Groton 

John Starr,* in the arm, - - - - - - Groton 

Daniel Stanton, Jr., in the body, - - - - Stonington 

William Seymour, lost his leg, ----- Hartford 

Ensign Jos. Woodmansee, lost one eye, - - - Groton 

Sanford Williams, in the body, ----- Groton 

Asel Woodworth, in the neck, - - . . Groton 

Thomas Woodworth, in the leg, ----- Groton 

Zibe Woodworth, in the knee, - - - - Groton 

ADDITIONAL NAMES NOT ON AVERy'S LIST, BUT IN THAT PRINTED 
BY MR. HARRIS. 

Samuel Stillman, arm and thigh, - - - . Saybrook 

Tom Wansuc (Pequot Indian), bayonet stab in neck, Groton 

If to these we add, — 
Edward Stanton, in the body, ----- Stonington 
who is in the list of wounded reported by the committee of the 
legislature, we have exactly the number (35) reported by Stephen 
Hempstead as being paroled. 

The large proportion of officers among the killed and wounded is 
accounted for by the fact that after six years of war, many men had 
been in the army or militia and earned their titles. When the alarm 
was sounded, the same spirit which had raised them to command, at 
once brought them to the fort as volunteers. They were there prompt 
for duty. Others were officers of privateers or merchantmen lying in 
the harbor, whose fearless hearts prompted them to lend a hand in 
defence of the fort. 

* The name is in the original manuscript, but has never been given in any printed list. — A. 

I Frederick Wave first appeared in Rathbun's Narrative, before alluded to, and was copied by Mr. 
Harris. The original manuscript list of paroled wounded is that of Rufus Avery, in which this name 
is Frederick Moore. Though carelessly written, anyone can see the same reading which gave us 
Wave should have given us Wavgan for Morgan. Frederick Moore drew a pension. I have put him 
in place of Wave, who has for a century taken the honors due to Moore, who lost a house on Groton 
Bank by the fire. No trace of Wave can be found. He seems to have disappeared as completely as 
his namesakes after a gale. 



The Battle of Grotofi Heights. 1 3 

OTHERS, BOTH UNHURT AND WOUNDED, NOT TAKEN PRISONERS. 

Benjamin Bill, wounded in the ankle, - - - Groton 

Joshua Bill, in the leg, ------ Groton 

Benajah Holdridge, ------- Groton 

Samuel W. Jacques, ------- Exeter, R. I. 

Amos Lester, in the hip, ------ Groton 

Gary Leeds, ^ died December 28, - - - - - Groton 

William Latham, Jr., (a boy of twelve, who was allowed 

to go free) -------- Groton 

Henry Mason, in the leg, ------ Groton 

Japheth Mason, -------- New London 

James Morgan, fifteen bayonet pricks in back and 

legs, --------- Groton 

Thomas Mallison, ------- Groton 

Joseph Moxley, Jr., in the body, ----- Groton 

Elisha Morgan, -------- Groton 

John Prentis, slightly wounded, ----- New London 

WOUNDED ON NEW LONDON SIDE. 

Samuel Booth Hempstead, shot in thigh. 
Elijah Richards, died September 20. 
Johathan Whaley. 

PRISONERS CARRIED OFF. 

Sergeant Rufus Avery, Walter Harris, ^ 

Caleb Avery, Jeremiah Harding, 

Peter Avery, — Kilburn, 

Samuel Abraham, Ebenezer Ledyard (hostage), 

Joshua Baker, William Latham, 

Reuben Bushnell, Jonathan Minor, 
Captain William Coit ^ (taken on Isaac Morgan, 

New London side), Isaac Rowley, 

Charles Chester, Lieutenant Jabez Stow (of Fort 
Nathan Darrow, Trumbull), Saybrook, 

Elias Dart, Corporal Josiah Smith, 

Levi Dart, Holsey Sanford, 

Gilbert Edgcomb, Solomon Tift, 

Daniel Eldridge, Horatio Wales, 

Ebenezer Fish, Thomas Welles. 

I See report to Legislature, page 138 

1 Captain of the f rst company in New London to respond to the Lexington alarm. Afterward in 
the naval service, in which he boasted " he was the first man to turn King George Ill's bunting 
upside down." 

2 Mr. Walter Harris, living on Town Hill, near Fort Nonsense, in the house now occupied by his 
grandson, Douglas W. Gardner, was staying by the house, and when Arnold came by he recognized 
him, hailed him as a traitor, and further relieved his mind regarding his conduct, for which he was 
taken prisoner and sent off with the rest. 



14 The Battle of Grotou Heights. 

Of the one hundred and sixty odd men who were in the fort on 
that 6th of September, almost all were natives of New London and 
Groton, and most fought in the sight and all within the hearing of 
their own firesides. Their wives and children or fathers and mothers 
heard the guns they fired and those of the enemy by which they died. 
They could only imagine the bayonet stabs by which the greater por- 
tion of them were murdered after the surrender. When the roar of 
cannon and the rattle of musketry ceased, and they knew by the curhng 
smoke of the burning town that the invaders w^ere victors, they still 
hoped for humanity to the vanquished. Not till the hostile flag at the 
mast-head of the British fleet disappeared in the darkness did those 
friends and neighbors gather to find their loved ones dead among 
heaps of slain, literall}- butchered by the barbarism of a civilized peo- 
ple worse than that of the savages. How easy to picture men and 
women, wives, mothers, sweethearts, fathers and brothers, examining 
the faces of the sleepers to find the dearest idols of the heart cold in 
death, bathed in gore, murdered by brutal enemies; led by a traitor 
who in other years had known every foot of the ground so bravely 
consecrated to a noble memory. Does not the reader see the crowd 
of anxious ones all that long night after the slaughter, some with 
lanterns, others by their hands alone, searching for their household 
treasures, and, having found them, tenderly and carefully as a mother 
lays her infant to sleep, carrying the .still bleeding body on the rude 
country-made , bier, raised on the shoulders of old men and boys, to 
the near or distant home for burial? So they went, with the AUyns 
northward to their century old, famil}- graveyard b}' the river bank, 
with the Perkinses and Starrs northeastward, with the Averys and 
Ledyards south, all to their final resting place — burying them with 
simple rites and uncovered heads among their ancestors in the almost 
neglected " God's Acre," where it will be an honor for the generations 
of all time to lie in ground which their valor defended, which their 
freely-given lives sanctified, and which their holy dust has forever 
consecrated to libert}' and patriotism. 

About four hundred and fifty 3'ards southeast from the fort is the 
grave of Colonel Ledyard, whose name has been given to the ceme- 
tery, which was formerly known as that of Packer's Rock, from the 
high ledge upon its eastern border. In 1854 the State appropriated 
fifteen hundred dollars for the erection of a suitable memorial to the 
martyr. His remains, with those of his wife and children, were 
removed a few yards to the west, near the centre of the ground, and a 

Note — 

No list of the wounded and prisoners has ever been made until this list of mine, which is made up 
from pension lists, official reports, petitions, newspaper obituaries, family letters, and traditions 
handed down from father to son or daughter, as it chanced to be one or the other, of a nature 
to be interested in the family history. — Charles Allvn. 





Colonel Ledyard's nonument. 

The Original Headstone at the left of Monument. 



The Battle of Gi'oton Heights. 1 5 

beautiful monument, cut from native granite, was erected over his 
grave. 

It is enclosed by an iron railing supported by posts appropriately 
cast in the form of cannon. Within the inclosure are the remains of 
the slab of blue slate which originally marked the grave ; it is now 
nearly destroyed, and the inscription rendered illegible by the vandal- 
ism of the rehc hunter. On the west face of the monument, upon the 
shaft, an unsheathed sabre is carved in relief; below, upon the sub- 
base, in raised letters, is the name LED YARD, and on the die is the 
following inscription : — 

Sons of Connecticut 
Behold this monument and learn to emulate 
the virtue valor and Patriotism of your ancestors. 

The south face bears the following : — 

ERECTED IN 1854. 

<$>♦<§> 

By the State of Connecticut in remembrance of the painful 

events that took place in this neighborhood during the war of 

the Revolution ; 
It commemorates the burning of New London, 

the Storming of Groton Fort the Massacre of 

the Garrison and the slaughter of Ledyard the 

brave Commander of these posts who was slain 

by the Conquerors with his own Sword. 

<§>*^ 
He fell in the service of his country 
Fearless of death and prepared to die. 

On the north: — 
Copy of the Inscription on ttie Head-Stone originally erected over the Grave 
of Colonel Ledyard. 

Sacred to the Memory of William Ledyard Efqr Coll 
Commandant of the Garrifoned pofts of New London & Groton ; 
Who after a gallant defence, was with a part of the brave Garrifon, 
inhumanly Maff acred ; by britifh troops 

in Fort Griswold, Sep 6 1781 Aetatis suae 43 
By a judicious & Faithful difcharge of the various duties of his 
Station, He rendered moft efential Service to his Country; and 
Itood confeffed, the unfhaken Patriot; and intrepid Hero. He 
lived, the Pattern of Magnanimity; Courtefy, and Humanity. He 
fell the Victim 

of ungenerous Rage and Cruelty 



i6 



The Battle of Groton Heights. 




REFERENCES TO FORT GRISWOLD. 



Magazine. 

SalleePort. 

A ditch leading to battery below. 

Embrazine where Major Montgomery fell. 

Barracks. 

Well. 
8, g. Points where the light companies of the 40th entered. 

Guns that harrassed the enemy. 

Ravelin that covered the gate. 

A rock not cut away, which gives an entrance into the work. 
From E to F round the sides D, C and B the work is fraised. 
On the curtain A to the angle F was ;i baibette battery. 
H is at the southeast corner. 
F is at the southwest corner. 



F. 



Monument View. ij 



The Monument View. 



North Window — Thames River; Railroad Bridge; Odd Fellows' 
Home; Navy Yard; Montville; Salem; Ledyard; Brewster's 
Neck. 

East Window — Mystic and Stonington ; Old Avery House ; Fort Hill ; 
Lantern Hill; Mystic Island and Light-ship; Latimer Reef 
Light-house; Wicopesset Island; Watch Hill; Block Island; 
Point Judith ; Gay Head. 

South Window — Ledyard Cemetery ; Fort Griswold House ; Eastern 
Point; New London Light; Pequot House; Ocean Beach; 
Fishers Island ; Long Island; Gardners Island; Plum Island; 
Montauk Point; Bartletts Reef Light-ship; Race Rock Light; 
North Dumpling Light ; Gull Island Light. 

West Window — City of New London and Harbor ; Fort Trumbull ; 
Water Tower ; Old Town Mill ; Cedar Grove Cemetery ; Jor- 
dan ; Niantic ; Waterf ord ; Lyme ; Connecticut River ; Pleasure 
Beach. 



Rufus Avery's Narrative 



OF THE 



BATTLE OF FORT GRISWOLD 

FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT.^ 



AS I belonged to the garrison at Fort Griswold when Benedict 
Arnold's army came to New London and Groton, on the sixth 
of September, 1781, and made their attack on both places, I 
had every opportunity to know all the movements through the day 
and time of the battle. I am requested to give a particular account of 
the conduct of the enemy. I had charge of the garrison the night 
before the enemy appeared anywhere near us, or were expected by 
any one at that time to trouble us. But about three o'clock in the 
morning as soon as I had daylight so as to see the fleet, it appeared a 
short distance below the light-house. The fleet consisted of thirty-two 
vessels in number — ships, brigs, schooners, and sloops. I immediately 
sent word to Captain William Latham, who commanded the said fort 
and who was not far distant. He very soon came to the fort, and saw 
the enemy's fleet, and immediately sent a notice to Col. William Led- 
yard, who was commander of the harbor. Fort Griswold and Fort 
Trumbull. He soon arrived at the garrison, saw the fleet, then ordered 
two large guns to be loaded with heavy charges of good powder, &c. 
Captain William Latham took charge of one gun that was discharged 
at the northeast part of the fort, and I took charge of the gun on the 
west side of the fort, so as to give a " larum " to the country in the 
best manner that it could be done. We discharged then regular 



^ A publication purporting to be this narative has been twice printed; first by one Rathbun, in 
1840, who had the effrontery to put at the head of it, " In his own words," while in the story were 
many changes and additions (amounting to pages in his pamphlet), in places converting the simple 
English of Mr. Avery into bombastic nonsense; Mr. Harris, accepting the " In his own words " as a 
sufficient guarantee of genuineness, copied it entire in 1870. 

I had the good fortune to have a friend remark that he " had read the original, and thought it had 
been fixed up some," but was not quite sure, as it was " some years ago." I at once got the original 
manuscript, by the kindness of its owner, and read it with the printed copy, and now, for the first 
time, is the original manuscript given in print. I have taken the liberty of using the present popular 
spelling, rather than the somewhat " phonetic" manner of the writer, perhaps to be made popular by 
"spelling-reform advocates." — A. 

18 



Narrative of Rufiis Avery. 1 9 

"larums." Two guns was the regular " larum," but the enemy under- 
stood that, and they discharged a third gun similar to ours and timed 
it alike, which broke our alarm, which discouraged our troops coming 
to our assistance. Col. William Ledyard immediately sent out two 
expresses, one from each fort, to call on every captain of a militia 
company of men to hurry them in to our relief. But not many came 
to our assistance. Their excuse was that they supposed it to be only 
a false alarm. The discharge of the third gun by the enemy entirely 
changed the alarm. It was customary, when there was a good prize 
brought into the harbor, or on the receipt of any good news, to rejoice 
by discharging three cannon, and this the enemy understood. They 
landed eight hundred officers and men and some horses and large 
guns and carriages on the beach at Eastern Point, Groton side of the 
river, about eight o'clock in the morning, and on New London 
side of the river below the light-house on the beach seven hundred 
officers and men at the same time. The army on the Groton side was 
divided into two divisions, about four hundred in each division. Col. 
Aires^ took command of the division southeast of the fort, about one 
hundred and thirty rods from the fort, behind a ledge of rocks. Major 
Montgomery took command of his division about one hundred and 
fifty rods from the fort, behind a high hill of land. The army on New 
London side of the river found better and more accommodating land 
for marching than on Groton side, and as soon as they got against 
Fort Trumbull they separated into two divisions : one went on to the 
town of New London, and plundered and set fire to the shipping and 
buildings, and the other division marched directly down to Fort Trum- 
bull. Capt. Shapley, who commanded the fort, saw that he was likely 
to be overpowered by the enemy, spiked up the cannon, and embarked 
on board his boats, which were prepared for him and his men if wanted. 
But the enemy were so quick upon him that before he and his small 
company could get out of gunshot in their boats a number of his men 
got badly wounded. Those that were able to get to Fort Griswold 
reached there, and most of them were slain. Col. Aires and Major 
Montgomery had their divisions stationed about nine o'clock in the 
morning. As soon as they appeared in sight we hove a number of 
shot at them, but they would endeavor to disappear immediately. 
About ten o'clock in the forenoon they sent their flag to demand of 
Col. Ledyard the surrender of the fort. The party with the flag 
approached within about forty rods of the fort, and we discharged 
a musket ball before them and brought them to a stand. Col. Led- 
yard called a council of war to take the minds of his fellow officers 

^ Eyre. 



20 Narrative of Rufus Avery. 

and friends as to what was to be done. They agreed to send a flag to 
meet theirs, and chose Capt. Elijah Avery, Capt. Amos Stanton, ^ and 
Capt. John WilUams. They immediately met the British flag, and re- 
ceived a demand to give the fort to them. Our flag soon returned 
with the summons, which was to surrender the fort to them. Inquiry 
was made of the council as to what must be done, and the answer was 
sent to the British flag that the fort would not be given up. Their flag 
went back to Col. Eyre's division, and soon returned to within about 
seventy rods of the fort, when they were again met by our flag, which 
brought back to Col. Ledyard the demand if they had to take the fort 
by storm they should put martial law in force; that is, whom they did 
not kill with balls should be put to death with sword and bayonet. 
Our flag went to the British flag with Col. Ledyard's answer that he 
should not give up the fort to them, let the consequence be what it 
might. While the flags were passing between us we were exchanging 
shots with the British at Fort Trumbull, of which they had got posses- 
sion of said fort before the commencement of the battle at Fort Gris- 
wold. We could heave a shot into Fore Trumbull among the enemy 
without difficulty, but they could not raise a shot so high as to come 
into Fort Griswold. Having obtained possession of our good powder 
and shot left by Capt. Shapley in the fort, they used it against us. 

About eleven o'clock in the forenoon the enemy found out what 
we were determined to do. Both divisions started ; that of Col. Eyre 
came on in solid column. As soon as he got on level ground we were 
prepared to salute them with a gun that took in an eighteen-pound 
ball, but was then loaded with two bags of grape shot. Capt. Elias 
Henry Halsey directed the gun, and took aim at the enemy. He had 
practiced on board of privateers, and he did his duty well. I was 
present with him and others near the g^n, and when the shot struck 
among the enemy it cleared a wide space in their solid column. It 
was reported on good authority that about twenty men were killed 
and wounded by that charge of grape shot. As soon as the enemy's 
column was broken by their loss of officers and men, they scattered 
and trailed their arms, and came on with a quick march and oblique 
step toward the fort inclining to the west. During this time we hove 
cannon and musket shot among the enemy. Col. Eyre's division came 
up to the south side and west side of the fort, where he was mortally 
wounded. Major Montgomery, who started with his division at the 



^ Captain Stanton, a man of almost gigantic stature and herculean strength, on seeing the slaugh- 
ter continued after the surrender, is said to have seized a heavy musket by the muzzle, and exclaiming, 
"My God, must we die so! " sprang upon the platform on the west side of the fort, and nearly 
cleared it of the enemy before he was brought down by a musket-shot. — H. 



Narrative of Rufus Avery. 2 1 

same time that Eyre did to come to the fort in soUd column, incUned 
to the north, until they got east of the redoubt or battery, which is east 
of the fort, when a large number of them came very quick into the 
battery. Our officers threw a heavy charge of grape shot among them, 
which destroyed a large number. They then started for the fort, a 
part of them in platoons, discharging their guns as they advanced, 
while some scattering officers and soldiers came round to the east and 
north part of the fort. As soon as the enemy got round the fort one 




RESIDENCE OF JAMES AVERY, ERECTED BY HIS ANCESTORS EIGHT GENERATIONS 
BACK, 1656. DESTROYED BY FIRE. 

man attempted to open the gate. He lost his life. There was hard 
fighting some time before the second man made the trial to open the 
gate, which he did. Our little number of one hundred and fifty-five 
officers and soldiers, most of whom were volunteers when the battle 
began, were soon overpowered. Then there was no block-house on 
the parade, as there is now, and the enemy had every opportunity to 
kill and wound almost every man in the fort. When they had over- 
powered us and driven us from our stations at the breastworks of the 
fort, Col. Wm. Ledyard seeing what few officers and men he had left 
to do any more fighting, they quit their posts, and went on the open 
parade in the fort, where the enemy had every opportunity to mas- 



22 Narrative of Riifiis Avery. 

sacre us ; there was about six of the enemy to one of us. The enemy 
mounted the parapet seemingly all as one, swung their hats around 
once, and discharged their guns, and them they did not kill with ball 
they meant to kill with the bayonet. I was on the west side of the 
fort, with Capt. Edward Latham and Mr. Christopher Latham, on the 
platform ; had a full sight of the enemy's conduct, and within five 
feet of these two men. I had at that time a ball and bayonet hole in 
my coat. As soon as the enemy discharged their guns they knocked 
down the two men before mentioned with the britch of their guns, 
and put their bayonets into them, but did not quite kill them. By this 
time Major Montgomery's division, then under the command of Capt. 
Bloomfield^ (the other gates having been unbolted by one of the men), 
marched in through the gates, and formed a solid column. At this 
time I left my station on the west side of the fort, and went across the 
south part of the parade towards the south end of the barrack. Col. 
Wm. Ledyard was on the parade, marching toward the enemy under 
Capt. Bloomfield, raising and lowering his sword. He was then about 
six or eight feet from the British ofificer. I turned my. eyes from Led- 
yard and stepped up to the door of the barrack, and saw the enemy 
discharging their guns through the windows. I turned myself imme- 
diately about, and the enemy had executed Col. Ledyard, in less time 
than one minute after I saw him.^ The column then continued 
marching toward the south end of the parade. I could do no better 
than to pass across the parade before the enemy's column, as they 
discharged the volleys of three platoons, the fire of which I went 
through. I believe there was not less than five or six hundred men of 
the enemy on the parade in the fort. They killed and wounded nearly 
every man in the fort, as quick as they could, which was done in about 
one minute. I expected my time to come with the rest. One mad- 
looking fellow put his bayonet to my side, and swore, " bejasus, he 
would skipper me." I looked him very earnestly in the face and eyes, 
and asked for mercy and to spare my life. He attempted three times 
to put the bayonet into me, but I must say I believe God forbade him, 
for I was completely in his power, as well as others that was present 

■^ Broomfield. 

^ Since this transaction there has ever existed in the public mind great uncertainty as to -who was 
the murderer of Colonel Ledyard, the odium being divided between Major Bromfield, who succeeded 
Major Montgomery in command of the British troops on that occasion, and Captain Beckwith, of the 
54th regiment. No person who actually witnessed the deed survived the battle,* or if any did they 
left no account of it behind them; and therefore the version of the manner of Ledyard's death com- 

* Mr. Harris is in error here, I believe, as I myself have heard this action described by three 
people whose fathers saw the murder, and often told of it to their children (see notes on Andrew Gallup 
and Caleb Avery). This being the case,, most of the ground for Mr. Harris's argument is taken away. 
The argument, though ingenious, is not conclusive, since no one can by reasoning be certain what 
positions would be taken in moments of such excitement. The most natural positions are those which 
agree with the popularly received account, as men of military experience and education, I think, will 
agree. — A. 



Narrative of Rufus Avery. 23 

with the enemy. The enemy at the same time massacred Lieut. Enoch 
Stanton within four or five feet of me. A platoon of about ten men 
marched up near where I stood, where two large outer doors to the 
magazine made a space wide enough for ten men to stand in one rank. 
They discharged their guns into the magazine among the dead and 
wounded, and some well ones, and some they killed and wounded. 
That platoon fell back, and another platoon came forward to discharge 
their guns into the outer part of the magazine, where the others did- 
As they made ready to fire, Capt. Bloomfield came suddenly round the 
corner of the magazine, and very quickly raised his sword, exclaim- 
ing: "Stop firing! You'll send us all to hell together!" Their 
language was bad as well as their conduct. I was near him when he 
spoke. Bloomfield knew there must be, of course, much powder scat- 
tered about the magazine, and a great quantity deposited there, but I 
expect the reason it did not take fire was that there was so much 
human blood to put it out. They did not bayonet many after they 
ceased firing their guns. I was amongst them all the time, and they 

monly received as the correct one is but merely a conjecture, at the most. By this, the deed is 
ascribed to the officer who received Ledyard's surrender of the fort, supposed by the greater number 
to have been Major Bromfield; others at the time, and for a long time subsequent, laid the infamous 
transaction to the charge of Captain feckwith, supposing him to have been the officer who met 
Ledyard and demanded the surrender. 
Let us consider the matter a little, and see if we be able to reconcile the known facts and strong 
. probabilities in the case, with this generally received opinion. Upon the entry of the British officer 
to the fort, and at his demand of who commanded it. Colonel Ledyard advanced to answer, " I did," 
etc., at the same time tendering him the hilt of his sword in token of submission. It is obvious that 
in this action Colonel Ledyard must have presented the front of his person to that officer. Now, had 
the latter, in taking the surrendered sword, instantly (as all accounts charge him with having done) 
plunged it into him, is it not also evident that it must have entered in front and passed out at at the 
back of his person? The vest and shirt worn that day by Colonel Ledyard, preserved in the Wads- 
worth Athenaeum at Hartford, upon examination reveal two rough, jagged openings, one on either 
side, a little before and in a line with the lower edge of the arm-holes of the vest. The larger of these 
apertures is upon the left side; the difference in size between it and that on the right corresponds with 
the taper of a sabre blade from hilt to point, showing conclusively that the weapon entered from the 
left and passed out at the right, and that the person by whom the wound was inflicted must have 
stood upon the left side of the wearer when the plunge was made. These holes are marked: that on 
the left as " where the sword entered," and that on the right as " where the sword came out."— s6 
marked, doubtless, by the person who presented these memorials to the society, a near relative of 
Colonel Ledyard, and who considered them as the marks of the fatal wound. These are the only 
marks visible upon the garment. It is a reasonable supposition that when the British officer entered 
and thundered his demand he carried his drawn sword in his right hand ; for we can scarcely imagine 
an officer rushing unarmed into a place of such danger and demanding a surrender. Now, in case he 
did so carry his sword, he must necessarily either have sheathed, dropped, or changed it to his left 
hand, in order to receive Ledyard's with his right; and this hardly seems possible. We must there- 
fore suppose that he received it in his left hand ; and if so, does it not appear as most unreasonable that, 
having a sword in either hand, he would have used that in his left with which to make the thrust ? 
Yet he must have done so if it was by his own sword VhsX Ledyard met his death. Neither does it 
appear possible that in the heat and excitement of the engagement, coolly calculating the chances, 
he would have passed round to the left of his victim for the purpose of making the wound more surely 
fatal, — the only reason for which we can suppose it to have been done. 

We have seen from the position occupied by the parties that the wound, if inflicted instantly on the 
surrender of the sword, must have been given in front ; the marks in the vest conclusively prove it to 
have been given in the left side. We have seen the awkward position of the officer with his own 
sword in his right and Ledyard's in his left hand, — a situation almost precluding the idea of his 



24 Narrative of Rufus Avery. 

very soon left off killing, and then went stripping and robbing the 
dead and wounded, and also those that were not wounded. They then 
ordered each one of us to march out to the northeast part of the 
parade, and them that could not go themselves, from their wounds, 
were to be helped by those that were well. Mr. Samuel Edgecomb, 
Jr., and myself were ordered to take Ensign Charles Eldredge out of 
the magazine. He was a very large, heavy man, who had been shot 
in the knee joint. We poor prisoners were taken out on the parade, 
about two rods from the gates of the fort, and every man ordered to 
sit down immediately, and if not obeyed at once the bayonet was to 
be put into him. The battle was then finished, which was about one 
o'clock in the afternoon ; the enemy began to take care of their dead 
and wounded. The first thing they did was take off six of the outer 
doors of the barracks and, with four men to a door, would bring in 
one man at a time on each door. There were twenty-four men at work 
about two hours as fast as they could walk and deposit them on the 
west side of the parade in the fort, where it was the most comfortable 
place they could find, while we poor prisoners were put in the most 
uncomfortable spot on the parade, in the fort, where the sun shown down 
so very warm on us that it made us feel more unhappy. Some of the 
wounded men lay dying. Capt. Youngs Ledyard and Capt. Nathan 
Moore were among the number. I sat on the ground with the other 
prisoners, and these two fine men lay on the ground by me, Ledyard's 



making the stab with the latter. We have also seen that no person who witnessed it left any testi- 
mony regarding the affair, and that all that the commonly received version of it is based upon is really 
but the surmises of a people wrought almost to desperation by their losses and wrongs, who in the first 
moments of exasperation would naturally attribute an act of such enormity to the commander as the 
representative of the enemy. Now, after considering all these facts and probabilities, is it not a more 
rational conclusion that the wound was given by a by-standing ofiScer — a subaltern or aid, perhaps — 
than that it was inflicted by the officer to whom Ledyard offered his sword? It certainly so appears 
to us. But in case that, despite all these reasons for believing that officer innocent of the crime, he 
was really guilty, of the two to whom it has been charged, against but one is there any evidence to 
sustain the charge, and this is purely circumstantial. Captain Beckwith acted as aid to Lieutenant- 
Colonel Eyre on the day of the battle, and was the officer sent to demand the surrender of the fort. 
He, with Lord Dalrymple, was sent by Arnold as bearer of dispatches to Sir henry Clinton, and in 
all probability furnished the account of the battle for Rivington's Gazette, which appeared in that 
paper before the remainder of the expedition had reached New York. In this account, in which 
the details of the conference regarding the surrender are given with a minuteness with which only an 
eye-witness could give them, personal malice toward Colonel Ledyard is a salient feature, which the 
most unobservant reader cannot fail to notice. The writer appears to have considered the flag and 
the officers bearing it insulted in the conference; and in his references to the garrison, and to Colonel 
Ledyard in particular, he expresses himself in the most contemptuous and bitter terms. 

If he was the officer to whom the surrender was made, it is possible that on beholding the man who 
he fancied had insulted him he allowed his rage to supplant his manhood, and, forgetting his military 
honor, plunged his sword into his vanquished enemy. From Miss Caulkins' History of New 
London we learn that he afterward passed through New York on his way to Barbadoes. While 
there he was charged by the newspapers of that city with the murder, which he indignantly denied. 
A correspondence was opened between him and a relative of Colonel Ledyard in reference to the 
question, when he produced documents which exculpated him. In view of this, however, as between 
him and Major Bromfield, circumstantial evidence is strongly in favor of the latter, who doubt- 
less could have furnished as full documentary proof of his innocence, had he been called upon for it. — H. 



Narrative of Rufus Avery. ' 25 

head on one thigh, and Moore's head on the other. They both died 
that night. While I was with them they had their reason, and re- 
quested water for their thirst. I asked of the enemy water for my 
brother prisoners to drink, as well as for myself. They granted my 
request. The well was within two rods of us. I watched them when 
they brought the water to me for us to drink, to see that they did not 
put anything in it to poison us ; for they had repeatedly said that we 
must all die before the sun went down, because that was in the sum- 
mons sent to Col. Wm. Ledyard that those who were not killed by 
musket-ball should die by the sword and bayonet. But happy for us 
that was alive they did not offer to hurt any one man, and they said 
that was a falsehood. They kept us on the ground in the garrison 
about two hours after the battle was over, and then ordered every man 
who was able to walk to rise up immediately. Sentries with loaded 
guns and fixed bayonets were placed around us, with orders to shoot 
or bayonet any one that did not obey the officer. I was obliged to 
leave two dying men that were resting on me as they lay on the ground 
beside me. We marched down on the bank by the river so as to be 
ready to embark to go on board the British fleet. Then, about thirty 
of us, every man was ordered to set down, and, as at other times, was 
surrounded with sentries. Capt. Broomfield came and took the names 
of the wounded that were able to march down with us. I sat where I 
had a fair view of the enemy's conduct. The sun was about half an 
hour high, and they were setting fire to the buildings, and bringing 
down plunder by us as were placed at the lower part of the village. 
At the same time a large number of the enemy between us and the 
fort were getting ready to quit the ground. They loaded up our very 
large, heavy ammunition wagon that belonged to the fort with the 
wounded men who could not go themselves, and about twenty of the 
soldiers drew it out of the fort and brought it to the brow of the hill 
on which the fort stood, which was very steep and about thirty rods 
distance. As soon as the enemy began to move the wagon down the 
hill, they began to put themselves in a position to hold it back with all 
their power. They found it too much for them to do ; they released 
their hold on the wagon as quick as possible to prevent being run over 
by the wagon themselves, leaving it to run down the hill with great 
speed. It ran about twelve rods to a large apple tree stump, and both 
shafts of the wagon struck very hard, and hurt the wounded men very 
much. A great number of the enemy were near where the wagon 
stopped, and they immediately ran to the wagon and brought that and 
the wounded men by where we prisoners were sitting on the ground, 
and deposited them in the house near by, that belonged to Ensign 
Ebenezer Avery, who was one that was in the wagon when it started 
down the hiil. Some of the enemy had set fire to the house before 
the wounded prisoners were placed in it, but the fire was put out by 



26 Narrative of Rufus Avery. 

some of the others. Capt. Bloomfield paroled the wounded men who 
were left, and took Ebenezer Ledyard, Esq., as a hostage for them left 
on parol, to see them forthcoming if called for. By this time the 
enemy's boats came up to the shore near where we prisoners were. 
The officer spoke with a doleful sound: "Come, you rebels, go on 
board the boats." That touched my feelings more than anything that 
passed for the day. I realized that I should have to leave my dear 
wife and my good neighbors and friends, and also my native land, and 
suffer with cold and hunger, as I was in the power of a cruel foe or 
enemy ; but I was still in the hands of a higher power, which was a 
great consolation to me, for I am sensible that God has preserved my 
life through many hardships, and when in danger of losing my life 
many times in the wars, etc. When we prisoners had marched down 
to the shore, the boats that were to receive us on board were kept off 
where the water was about knee-deep, and we were marched down in 
two ranks, one on each side of the boat. The officer that had the 
command very harshly ordered us to "get onboard immediately." 
There were about twelve prisoners in a boat. They rowed us down 
to an armed sloop, commanded by one Capt Thomas, as they called 
him, a refugee tory, who lay with his vessel within the fleet. As soon 
as they put us on broad the sloop they shut us down in the hold of the 
vessel, where they had a fire for cooking, which made it very hot and 
smoky. They stopped up the hatchway, making it so close that we 
had no air to breathe. We begged that they would spare our lives, 
and they gave us some relief by opening the hatchway, and letting one 
or two of us come on deck at a time during the night, but with sentries 
with guns and bayonets to watch us. They did not give us anything 
to eat or drink for about twenty-four hours, and then only a mess 
made of hogs' brains that they caught on Groton bank, with other 
plunder. While we were on board Thomas's sloop we had nothing to 
eat or drink that we could hardly swallow. This continued about 
three days. There were a number of weapons of war where we were 
placed in the vessel, and some of the prisoners whispered together 
that there was an opportunity to make a prize of the sloop. This 
somehow got to the officers' ears, and they immediately shut us all 
down in the hold of the vessel. I felt very certain that we would have 
to suffer, for they seemed so enraged that they appeared to have an 
intention to massacre us all. They soon got ready, and began to call 
us up on deck one by one. As I came up they tied my hands behind 
me with strong rope yarns, binding them together, and winding the 
rope yarn so hard as to nearly bring my shoulder blade to touch each 
other. Then they had a boat come from a fourteen-gun brig com- 
manded by a Capt. Steel, by name and nature. I was ordered to get 
over the side of the sloop without the use of my hands, the bulwarks 
above the deck being all of three feet in height, and then I had to fall 




The Gardner Homestead, New London. 

The House Known as the Gardner Homestead is a Relic of a Past Generation. It was re-built 

after the original model by the Late Owner, Douglass W. Gardner, in 1870. Several 

Relics of Historic Interest Connected with this Old Place are a Belt 

Buckle, Bearing the Initials of King George and the British 

Coat of Arms, and Indian Arrow Heads and 

Banner Stones used by the Various 

Tribes as Signals. 




View of New London Harbor on Regatta Day. 

Showing the Steamer " City, of ^Worcester," of the Norwich Line. 



Narrative of Rufiis Avery. I'j 

into the boat that was to carry us to the brig, and was made to lay 
down under the seats on which the rowers sat, as though we were 
brutes about to be slaughtered. After we were put on board the 
brig, we were ordered to stand in one rank beside the gunwale of the 
vessel, and a spar was placed before us leaving about one foot space 
for each man to stand in, with a sentry to nearly every man, with 
orders to bayonet or shoot any one that offered to move. They kept 
us in that situation about two hours in the rain and cold with very 
thin clothing upon us, and then gave us liberty to go about the main 
deck, and were obliged to lie on the wet deck without anything to eat 
or drink for supper. We were on board the brig about four days, and 
then put on board a ship commanded by Capt. Scott, who appeared 
very friendly to we prisoners. He took me on the quarter-deck with 
him. He was apparently about sixty years of age, and I remained 
with him until I was exchanged. Captain Nathaniel Shaw came down 
to New York with the American flag after me, and four young men 
that were made prisoners with me that belonged to the garrison at 
Fort Griswold, and during the time of the battle behaved like good 
soldiers. General Mifflin came with the British flag to meet the 
American flag. I sailed with him about twenty miles in the flag-boat. 
He asked me some questions, but I gave him little or no information, 
and told him I was very sorry that they came to destroy so many good 
men, and cause so much distress to families and desolation in the 
community, by burning so much valuable property, and further, that I 
did not believe that they would gain any honor by it. He replied, we 
might thank our own countrymen for it. I told him that / should not. 
I then turned to the General and said, will you answer me a few ques- 
tions? "As many as you please, Sir," was the reply. I made many 
inquiries, and asked him how many of the enemy were missing that 
were engaged in the attack on Groton and New London, remarking, 
" Sir, I expect you can tell as you are the Commissary of the British 
Army." He said, "I find in the returns that there were two hundred 
and twenty odd missing, but I don't know what became of them." 
Here I conclude the foregoing particular account from my own per- 
sonal knowledge of the British attack and capture of Fort Griswold, 
and their brutal conduct at New London and Groton, and also of their 
barbarous treatment of the prisoners who fell into their hands. 

Attest: RUFUS AVERY, 

Orderly Sergeant, under Captain William Latham, who commanded 
the Matross Company at Fort Griswold, Sept. 6, 1781. 



Narrative of Avery Downer, M. D., 

Assistant Surgeon of the Eighth Regiment of Connecticut Militia.i 



ON the morning of the 6th of September, 1781, a British fleet of 
twenty-four sail was discovered entering the harbor of New 
London. Arnold, the commander, being a native of Norwich, 
and well acquainted with the river and harbor, which was of much 
service to him, and also many tories and traitors of equal infamy with 
himself accompanied him, which is evidence that traitors indulge more 
revenge than a common enemy. 

I performed militia military duty as rank and file, by detachment 
from my company and regiment at Fort Griswold, a number of times 
during the summer of 1779. In 1781 I served as an assistant surgeon 
of the 8th regiment of Connecticut militia, including Fort Griswold 
in its limits. I well remember the morning of the alarm, two guns 
from the fort in a given time was the alarm. This the enemy well 
understood, and they fired a third, by which we in Preston were 
deceived, being fourteen miles distant. Doctor Joshua Downer, my 
father, and surgeon of the said 8th regiment, said to me and others in 
the morning that the firing must be an alarm ; but it was doubted, 
until the smoke of New London appeared like a cloud, which I well 
remember. My father immediately started for the fort and ordered 
me to follow him. 

On his arrival near the meeting-house he met Benjamin Bill and 
others who had escaped from the enemy slightly wounded. He 
dressed their wounds, and proceeded to the house of James Bailey, 
where he found Charles Eldridge wounded in the knee. He dressed 
him and proceeded, by orders from the field officers of his regiment, 
to the house of Ebenezer Avery. The surviving British commander, 
Bloomfield, had ordered all the wounded to be collected on the bank 
of the river near the house. All that were able to go to New York 
were sent down to the shipping; the remainder were paroled and left. 

Soon after the enemy were gone my father and Doctor Prentiss 
went into the house and took charge of forty wounded men. I got to 



^ This narrative was first prepared for use as an address on September 6, 1849, but was not used, 
the attendance being so small on account of a rain storm. — A. 



28 



Narrative of Avery Downer, M. D. 29 

their assistance at about twelve o'clock at night. Capt. Youngs 
Ledyard and one more died before morning. By daylight all were 
taken care of, and we with others went into the fort. When we came 
to Colonel Ledyard, the friend and neighbor of Doctor Prentiss, he 
exclaimed, " Oh, my God, I cannot endure this!" 

Our dead were by the enemy mostly left on the parade in front of 
the barracks; their dead they buried in the ditch, of a triangular 
work, made to cover the gate. Major Montgomery they buried on the 
right of the gate as we pass out, which I well remember.^ According 
to Arnold's dispatches to His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, dated 
Plum Island, September 8th, 1781, it appears that the forces which he 
sent on the Groton side of the river consisted of the 40th and 54th 
British regiments, and the 3d battalion of New Jersey volunteers, with 
a detachment of Yaggers and artillery, all under the command of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Eyre. 

Arnold landed his division on the New London side of the river, 
and was informed by friends that Fort Griswold contained only about 
twenty or thirty men. In this his good friends deceived him, for in 
his dispatches he says that the defence was so obstinate that he sent 
an officer to countermand his order for assault just as the fort was 
carried. Fort Trumbull, on the New London side of the river, was 
little more than a water battery open from behind, and the enemy 
coming in that direction the men spiked their guns and crossed the 
river and went into Fort Griswold. 

On the approach of the British the commander sent a Captain 
Beckwith, a Jersey refugee, to demand a surrender of the fort. Colonel 
Ledyard ordered a shot fired in front, which stopped the flag. He 
then sent Captain Amos Stanton and Captain Shapley with his flag ; 
the demand of Beckwith was refused and the flags returned. 

Eyre and Montgomery then advanced their columns, and the 
attack commenced on three sides of the fort at the same time. 

In about forty minutes the assailants entered the fort. According 



^ The Hon. J. P. C. Mather relates that some years since, during his official residence in Hart- 
ford — Colonel Samuel Green, son and successor of Timothy Green, publisher of Connecticut Gazette 
in 1781, related to him that some years after the battle an Irish gentleman came to New London 
selling a patent, or appliance connected with printing. After disposing of that business, at his 
request, Colonel Green took him to the scene of the battle on Groton Heights, where he sought out a 
survivor of the fight, from whom he learned of the exact place of Major Montgomery's burial; and 
explained that he came from the same town as the Major, whose sisters, still living, had charged 
him, if his travels in America brought him near the place of their brother's death, to find his grave 
and if possible procure his skull and bring it home to be buried within the family circle in the old 
church-yard. 

With the assistance of the Colonel and the survivor he obtained the sought for relic and departed 
well pleased with the result of his visit. After the above was written, in an interview with a daughter 
of one of the survivors, she volunteered the same information as occurring within her own knowledge. 
Though not quite so full, as to the interested parties, her facts agreed with the above. — A. 



30 Narrative of Avery Downer, M. D. 

to Arnold's dispatches, before referred to, as published in Green's 
paper of • New London, (Connecticut Gazette),. it appears that his 
loss was : — 

KILLED. WOUNDED. 

I Major, I Lieutenant-Colonel, 

1 Captain, 3 Captains, 

2 Sergeants, ' 2 Lieutenants, 
44 Rank and File. 2 Ensigns, 
Since died of wounds, 3 Sergeants, 

I Captain, 2 Drummers, 

I Lieutenant, 127 Rank and File. 

I Ensign. 

Total killed and died of wounds, 51. Total wounded, deducting 
three since died of wounds, 137. 

The American loss was, killed, 84; wounded, 40. 

Stephen Hempstead, one of the wounded survivors of the action, 
went to the State of Missouri, near St. Louis, in 1811. He published 
there a narrative of the battle on Groton Heights — correct in some 
things and very incorrect in others — and particularly so in the case of 
Colonel Nathan Gallup. In his narrative he says : " But a militia 
colonel was in the fort, and promised Colonel Ledyard that if he 
would hold out he would reinforce him in fifteen minutes with two or 
three hundred men. Colonel Ledyard agreed to send back a defiance 
upon the most solemn assurance of immediate succor. For this 

purpose Colonel started, his men being then in sight ; but he 

was no more seen, nor did he even attempt a diversion in our favor." 
Almost every person knew that Colonel Nathan Gallup was meant. 
He was at that time lieutenant-colonel of the 8th regiment of Con- 
necticut Militia. 

The true facts in the case are these : Colonel Benadam Gallup 
was in the fort previous to the action. Colonel I,edyard requested 
him to go back as far as Captain Belton's and urge on the men, but 
before he had time to return the enemy were so near that he could 
not re-enter the fort.^ 

In 1782 Colonel McClellan, of Woodstock, was commander of 
New London harbor. At that time a court-martial was held for the 
trial of officers. Colonel Nathan Gallup came before said court as a 



■■ Colonel Benadam Gallup, an older brother of Colonel Nathan Gallup, was an old man, of 
prominence in the town, but had no military ofifice at the time, his title being acquired in the time of 
the French War. 

Colonel Nathan was court-martialed and acquitted, but Benedam, not being of the military, had 
no tribunal but that of popular opinion, which unfortunately for him was in need of a victim, and by 
some mischance he became the target for abuse, as responsible for the lack of a diversion in favor of 
the garrison, as any old resident of Groton will remember. 




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Narrative of Avery Dow7ier, M. D 3 1 

prisoner, under six specific charges, from the whole of which he was 
acquitted with honor and his certificate of acquittal signed by all the 
officers of the court, viz., the following: 

Roger Newberry, of Hartford County, President. 

Hezekiah Bissel, of Windham, Judge Advocate. 

Joshua Downer, Surgeon. 

Avery Downer, Assistant Surgeon. 
Medical Staff of said 8th regiment of Connecticut Militia. 

When I look over the names inscribed on the tablets of the mon- 
ument erected as a memorial of their heroism, language fails me to 
express my feelings. With many of them I was well acquainted, 
particularly with Captain Amos Staunton and his lieutenant, Henry 
Williams, both natives of Groton, and at that time home on furloughs 
from the army. 

They went into the conflict as volunteers, left their wives and 
children and everything near and dear to them, in defending the 
rights of their country. Can we and shall we, their descendants, pass 
over the memory of such patriotic men, and their invincible courage 
and fortitude be forgotten ? No ; let their heroism and valor be 
engraved on the tablets of our hearts and all that may follow us, and 
endure as long as the sun and the moon shall light the day and the 
night. 

This narrative is this day finished with my own hand. I am 88 
years and 5 months old. 

AVERY DOWNER. 

Preston, April 17th, 1851. 



Biographical Sketches. 



COLONEL WILLIAM LEDYARD. 

William Ledyard, the son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Saltonstall) 
Ledyard, was born in Groton, Conn., in the old Ledyard homestead, 
near the site of the monument that calls the traveler to mark the spot 
where was performed one of the most inhuman and disgraceful acts 
ever known in civilized or barbarous warfare. Much of tradition has 
been circulated concerning this man, who by his tragic death became 
the property of the nation and one of the most distinguished heroes 
of the revolution. He was a man of fine form, good education for 
the times, unassuming in his manners, possessed of great executive 
ability, and could be depended upon in cases of emergency. These 
traits of character naturally brought him to the surface, and the peo- 
ple by intuition sought him out for prominent usefulness in religious, 
civil, and military life — and he never failed in the church, the state, 
and the field. He married Miss Anna Williams, daughter of 
Nathaniel and Amey (Hewitt) Williams of Stonington, by whom he 
had nine children, seven surviving him, one of whom was only ten 
days old on the day of the slaughter.^ He was named Charles, and 
died in 1789, a few hours before his mother, and by her special 
request was buried in her arms. 

The edict of Parliament to close the port of Boston aroused gen- 
eral indignation, protest and sympathy. Groton was not behind, and, 
in a public meeting to consider the issue, June 20, 1774, WiUiam 
Ledyard was chosen the first member of a committee of correspon- 
dence, with a view to some united effort. November 22, 1775, orders 
were issued to erect Fort Griswold, and Julys, 1776, he was appointed 
captain of a company of artillery and commander of the fort. In 
March, 1778, his command was extended to cover New London, 
Groton and Stonington, with the rank of major ; and under his direc- 
tion the works were repaired and additional batteries erected. July 
5, 1779, the whole coast in this section was stirred with the expecta- 
tion of an attack, but so well were they prepared under his direction 
that the enemy turned away and made New Haven the objective 
point. 

^ Mrs. Ledyard, with her babe, was taken early in the morning, on her bed, aboard a barge, and 
sent up the Thames River, to be out of reach of harm. — A. 

32 



Colonel William Ledyard. 33 

September 6, 1781, early in the morning, it was noticed that the 
enemy were bearing down on New London harbor with thirty-two 
sail. Signal guns were fired to give the alarm, but the traitor was on 
board one ship, and the report of another gun misled the people in 
the surrounding country. But Colonel Ledyard lost no time in dis- 
patching messengers to Governor Trumbull at Lebarxon, and to the 
various military companies near at hand, and improved every moment 
for the disposition of his few defenders, planning every move, and as 
far as possible preparing for every emergency, and did all he could to 
protect New London. He stood by the shore, passed some words of 
cheer to the anxious crowd, and stepping into the boat to cross the 
ferry, he bade them good morning, with this remark, " If I must lose 
honor or life today you who know me best can tell which it will be." 
With a majestic and elastic step he hurried to his command. His 
presence and his buoyant spirit inspired the little untrained garrison 
with hope and courage, and the gallant defence they made rendered 
them immortal in a struggle with overpowering numbers of thoroughly 
disciplined and experienced soldiers. He seemed ubiquitous, and 
cheered and directed the defenders at every point. History has 
assured to them and to him the just praise of an unparalleled struggle 
and an unexcelled exhibition of valor and courage. When the 
assailants had effected an entrance in spite of the efforts of his unsup- 
ported force, he could only take the last resort of military necessity, 
and when asked who commanded the fort, reply, "I did, but you do 
now," and, turning his sword, give it to the officer, who, with the fury 
of a demon, plunged it into his heart, causing instant death ;i which 
was followed by a carnage that history blushes to record. The vest 
and shirt he wore on that fatal day are preserved among other sacred 
relics in the Athenaum at Hartford, and the cruel rents made by his 
own sword in the hands of the victor still speak in eternal condemna- 
tion of the wretch who thus murdered one of the noblest specimens of 
the human race. Many were the distinguished dead that were left 
in that fort, but none wore a calmer or more serene face than that of 
our hero. 

Upon him had fallen the duty of maintaining liberty, and he did 
it nobly to the end. He suffered the loss of all things, even his life, for 
his country, and the man who for personal ambition or selfish ends 
preys on the national interest is guilty of a crime equal in character to 
the act of that infamous English officer. 

J. L. D. 

''■ A. Gallup, H. Sanford, C. Avery and J. Mason, of the defending garrison, speak of witnessing 
the deed. 



34 Mother Bailey. 

MOTHER BAILEY. 

In connection with the events that characterized the attack and 
heroic defence and final overpowering and massacre of the brave 
patriots that gave their lives for the protection of their homes and the 
cause of liberty, the name of "Mother Bailey" will ever stand promi- 
nent as a warm-hearted patriot and intense hater of British oppression. 
At the time of the attack on the fort and the barbarous treatment of 
its noble defenders after their surrender, Anna Warner, then a maiden 
of 23 summers, early an orphan, adopted by her uncle, Edward Mills, 
resided with his family in a little farmhouse surrounded by woods 
about three miles east of the village of Groton Bank, near what is 
called Candlewood Hill. Early feeling the spirit of '76 she grew up 
under influences calculated to stimulate her ardor in the cause of 
liberty, and learned to hate most cordially the enemies and invaders 
of her country, and often wished "she were a man that she might 
have an opportunity of taking an active part in its defence." Her 
uncle, Edward Mills, was one of the little band of volunteers that on 
the morning of Sept. 6th early hurried to the aid of the garrison. 
During the day and at its close no particulars of the result of the 
battle had reached the remote home of the Mills family. The night 
passed and no tidings had beenreceived by his almost distracted wife 
as to his fate. Anna, after early performing the out-door services of 
the farm, clad in the simple costume of the time, hurried to the fort, 
three miles distant, to obtain intelligence of her relative. She found 
him wounded, bleeding, and nearly insensible, lying on the bare floor 
of a neighboring house where the wounded had been conveyed. As 
soon as he recognized her he commenced moaning for his wife and 
children. Anna hurried back to the family with the sad intelligence, 
and immediately saddled the family horse, on which she placed the 
mother with one of the older children, and taking the youngest, the 
babe, in her arms, on foot herself, returned to the dying father, never 
resting on her errand of mercy until she laid the child upon his 
bosom. This was the noble part which this devoted maiden took in 
the history of that eventful day. 

After peace was established she married Elijah Bailey, who after- 
ward was appointed postmaster at Groton Bank, which office he 
continued to hold under every administration forty years, occupying 
the fine old mansion now owned and occupied by Paymaster Harris, 
pleasantly situated on the corner of the old road to Stonington. 

It was while residing here with her husband, thirt}'-one years 
afterwards, in June, 1813, that the famous petticoat incident occurred 
that made our heroine renowned throughout the country. Decatur 
and his little fleet of three vessels were closely blockaded by Com- 




Mother Bailey 



Mother Bailey. 35 

modore Hardy and his squadron, then in full view in Fisher's Island 
Sound. Marauding parties from the blockading fleet were making 
landings from time to time along the coast, and an attack of more 
formidable nature was feared, and from the former event in 1781, such 
an attempt at landing was expected. Alarms were frequent, and on 
one occasion when the forts and town were threatened, Major Simeon 
Smith, of New London, with a company of volunteers hurried to rein- 
force the garrison, but found it deficient in a very important article of 
ammunition — namely, flannel for cartridges. Search was instantly 
made throughout the village for a supply. From the apprehension of 
another enactment of the scenes of 1781, the inhabitants had removed 
nearly all their beds, bedding, etc., and flannel or blankets could not 
be obtained. An appeal was made to Mrs. Bailey, as she was crossing 
the street to a house of a neighbor. She had already disposed of her 
blankets, but quick as thought she passed her hand under her skirt, 
and, unloosing the band of her flannel petticoat, dropped it gracefully 
at her feet and handed it to the officer. It is perhaps unnecessary to 
repeat the exact vigorous expression she used as she presented the 
garment, but the cordial wish and hope of the giver was that the aim 
might be sure and the execution thorough on the first Englishman 
that could be reached. The garment was conveyed to the fort and its 
story repeated to the garrison, and with loud huzzas for " Mother 
Bailey" it was raised on a pike-staif, with the remark that no better 
banner was needed to stimulate to deeds of heroism. 

"The Martial Petticoat" was lauded throughout the land, and 
was the theme of sober prose aid patriotic poesy, of story and of 
song, and is still remembered and will be by the patriots of future 
time. Its heroine was honored with the personal visits of one or more 
of our presidents, by statesmen and historians, and many noted per- 
sonages of the past generation. Always buoyant and animated in her 
nature and disposition, even in her old age, she was a kind neighbor, 
a warm friend, and always ready to assist the needy, or in person to 
relieve the wants of the poor and distressed. She died January 10, 
T851, at the age of ninety-two, from her clothes taking fire from a 
stove near which she was sitting. Cherished be her memory. — 
W. H. S.^ 

^ The above sketch of " Mother Bailey" is from the writer's actual knowledge, who resided some 
years almost adjacent to her dwelling, and as a frequent inmate of her household, heard the rehearsal 
and repetition of the facts above stated from her own lips from time to time for more than a quarter 
of a century. He can vouch for their correctness, although somewhat different from occasional 
statements that have beea made in many of the newspaper articles that have from time to time ap- 
peared.— W. H. S. 



Poem of Leonard Woolsey Bacon, 

Delivered on the occasion of the Centennial Celebration, 
September 6th, i88i. 



The word went forth from the throne : i 

'■'■ Desolate ! Desolate ! 
Smite, burn, destroy, till their woes shall atone 
For the ivoe and shame of the State ! 
They have shamed the arms of their king ; 
They have flotUed the terms we bting ; 
High time that vengeance should have full szving 
Vver small and great. 

''''Reap down their crops with your swords ! 

Harry ! Ravage ! 
Hound on the rage of your hireling hordes, 
Hessian and savage ! 
Of our grace we have offered them oft. 

Fair terms of submission ; 
They have scorned our words and scoffed 

At reserve and condition. 
They are reaching out hattds to Frattce ; 
They welcome our foe's advance ; 
Go, Clinton, dance those rebels a dance. 
To perdition." 

So the blaze .of Fairfield flushed the sky 

New Haven's smoke went rolling high ; 

Far Norwalk cried with a bitter cry; 
And the sons of the Puritan pioneers 
Saw the toil and thrift of a hundred years 

Spoiled in an hour. 

An answering flame 
Blazed back from patriot hearts and true 

And scorched with a terrible wrath and shame 
The tory and traitor crew. 

The Governor's face grew sad, 
In his store on Lebanon hill, 
He reckoned the men he had ; 
He counted the forts to fill; 
He traced on the map the ground 
By river, and harbor, and coast, — 
"Ah, where shall the men and the guns be found 
Lest the State be lost ?" 



I That the scenes of destruction and pillage which ended at New London and Groton were in pur- 
suance of a deliberate policy is seen in the proclamation to the colonies in 1778, and the instructions of 
Lord George Germain to Sir Henry Clinton in 1779. " Keep the coasts of the enemy constantly 
alarmed. Destroy their ships and magazines," &c., &c. — L. W. B. 



36 



Poem of Leonard Woolsey Bacon . , 37 

The brave State's sons were gone ; 

On many a field they lay ; 
They were following Washington, 

Afar down Yorktown way ; 
The men and the weapons failed, 

They were gone with our free good-will ; 
But Jonathan Trumbull never quailed. 

In his store on Lebanon hill. 

There was New London fort, 

And the fort on Groton Height, 
And the rich and crowded port ; 

But where were the men to fight ? 
Might it not be we had erred 
To care for our homes so ill 
Nay, never a word of such grudge was heard 
On Lebanon hill. 

Remember, citizens, and 

If ever the ill thought comes 
To reck less of the broad, great land, 

And more of your own small homes. 
Think of your father's dust ; 
Think of their brave good-will, 
And the Puritan Governor's toil and trust 
On Lebanon hill. 

Well, at last drew on the day. 
Dark with ill omen, 
Off the mouth of the bay — 
Flapping their wings in the gray, 
Like carrion birds — they lay 

The ships of the foeman. 
" To talk of defense were wild ; 

We were plundered, burned, beaten, defiled, 
They spared not the old, nor the sick, nor the child. 
Nor the woman ! " 

Not so, spake Ledyard, brave soul. 

Our noble commander. 
O History, point, on your roll. 

To a nobler or grander. 
He stepped from his farm-house door, 
A hero like those of yore. 
Oh ! fair was the look of grace that he wore 
And of candor! 



38 Poe7n of Leonard Woolsey Bacon. 

Now briskly he spoke to his troops : 

Not a sigh, not a frown ; 

No thought or of fears or of hopes, 

But of honor and duty alone ; 
No question of gain or loss. 
Only Home and the Righteous Cause. 
So he signalled the handfull of gunners across 
From the battery under the town. 

Few, few, in the big redoubt, 

The sons of the Puritans stood, 
And over the parapet wall looked out 

Beyond the fringe of the wood ; 
Saw the enemy's blood-red lines uncoil 
And wind out snake-like over the soil ; 

Heard the shrill fifes, piping scorn ; 

Saw the steel flash back the morn. 
And the cruel cross before them borne — 
The cross in a field of blood ; — 

Looked townward over the bay ; 

Along the country roads 
Saw women and children running away 

With bits of their household goods : 
Saw the red-coats and Hessians 

Dragging through dust and mire 
The spoil of their poor possessions ; 

And at last they saw — the fire ! 

And the Colonel, with glass in hand. 

Saw the hatefulest sight of all : 
As the burying-ground he scanned. 
High over its terrace wall. 
He saw that nameless traitor stand 
On the Winthrops' tomb, i to give command 
For the deeds that his own black heart had planned. 
In its bitterness and gall. 

Did the stones stir under his tread ? 
Did a cry break forth from the dead ? 

Did the Winthrops' dust rise up. 
To fling that sacrilege off the bed, 

Where it slept in a Christian hope ? 

I The tradition of Arnold's standing during the fight on the tomb of the Winthrops is demon- 
strably unhistorical, but not therefore unpoetical. 



Pocfn of Leonard Woolsey Bacon. 39 



Was it a voice from the tomb ? 
Was it these scenes of his youtli 
That crowded that shameless brow with gloom ? 

That softened his heart to ruth ? 
What moved the mind of the nameless wretch, 
To send bis orders across to fetch 
The regiments back? 

In sooth 
'Twas too late. The terrible fight 

Had been fought and lost — 
The brave, brave fight for the Right, 
Here upon Groton Height. 

And O the cost ! 
Men came from the smouldering town ; 
From the woods and the hills came down, 

When the enemy had crossed ; 
And here, in the autumn weather, 
Lay the dead, all tumbled together, 
Stripped and mangled and tossed. 
The gray-haired men and the boys were seen 
Where they poured their blood on the trampled green. 
And quenched the train to the magazine. 

And 'mid the dead hush, faint groans 
Were heard from far down the road, — 
Groans of strong men in anguish, — 
Where the horrible wagon-load, 
Heaped with wounds and with broken bones. 
Had been plunged down over the pitiless stones. 
And they brutally left our gallant ones 
To languish. 



Two-score widows of Groton town 
Walked 'mid the corpses up and down ; 
Turned the dead faces up to the light, 
Calling, calling into the night ; 
Listening for word or voice 
From husband, or father, or boys ; 
Waiting, speaking. 
Questioning, seeking, 
Over the torn sod, reeking 
With the blood of Groton Height. 



And there by the sally-port. 
Where the foe had entered the fort. 
Lay Ledyard, gallant knight, 
His bosom gored 
By his own brave sword. 
And his hero-blood on the ground outpoured 
For the Right. 



Descriptions of Illustrations. 



OLD TOWN MILL. 



New London when it was originally settled was an agricultural place and 
a mill to grind the corn was a necessity that soon manifested itself. A town 
meeting was called to consider the matter on November lo, 1650. The fol- 
lowing persons were present: Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Parke, Jonathan Brewster, 
Robert Hempstead, William Nichols, John Gager, Thomas Stanton, William 
Bartlett, Peter Blatchford, William Comstock, WilUam Taylor, Mr. Blinman, 
Samuel Lathrop, John Lewis and William Morton. The town records state 
that it was decided that the " making of the dam and heavy work belonging to 
the mill " should be at the public expenses. Six men were selected to per- 
form this work which was to be made substantial and sufficient, and six others 
were assigned the task of rating the town that the expense might be defrayed. 

It was agreed that " no person shall set up any other milne to grind corn 
for the town of Pequett within the limits of the town, either for the present 
nor the future, so long as Mr. John Winthrop or his heirs, do uphold a milne 
to grind the town corn."' 

Mr. Winthrop lived in a stone house near the head of the cove south, 
where the Winthrop school is now located. When he was elected governor 
he removed to Hartford and leased the mill to James Rogers about the year 
165 . A complaint was soon after made to the general court that the people were 
not " duely served in the grinding of their corn" and that body ordered Mr. 
Rogers to give daily attendance at the mill that no more disturbance of the 
peace might arise from this cause. 

Shortly after this Mr. Rogers and Mr. Winthrop had a long law suit re- 
garding the mill, during which the governor's sons, Fitz John and Wait Still, 
attempted to put up a bolting mill on other ground, and Rogers to thwart them 
erected a building that would shut off all communication between the new mill 
and the highway. This brought matters to a crisis, and Richard Lord of Hart- 
ford and Amos Richardson of Stonington were appointed commissioners to 
settle the affair, said settlement to comprehend all difficulties concerning the 
mill "from the beginning of the world to the date thereof." They made a set- 
tlement that was satisfactory to both Winthrop and Rogers, and the former by 
the payment of a sum of money secured control of the mill. 

The Winthrops continued in charge and had a monopoly of the business 
until 1709. A town meeting was held on December 26 of that year and the 
following vote was passed: 

" Whereas, The town has suffered many years for the want of a grist 
mill, and no care taken by the heirs of the former Governor Winthrop for our 
rehef therein, who have sometimes claimed the privilege of supplying the 
town with what grist mills are necessary, and the present grist mill belong- 
ing to the late Governor Winthrop, being like to be altogether useless in a 
little time, the town therefore see cause upon the request of Robert Latimer, 
Stephen Prentiss, John Daniels, Richard Manwarring, Oliver Manwarring, Jr., 
and James Rogers, Jr., to grant liberty to them, or the major part of them, 
to setup a gnst mill upon the falls of Jordan Brook, where it falleth into 
the cove." 

40 




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Descriptions of Illustratioiis. 41 

This put an end to the monopoly and although the Winthrops made 
several attempts to regain it, the town refused their requests and disregarded 
their protests. 



THE OLD WINTHROP HOUSE. 

The Winthrop House, which appears in the picture, was the home for suc- 
cessive generations of Winthrops, down to a comparatively recent date, but 
is not the house in which John Winthrop lived, that having been located near 
the site of the house in the picture. All that remains of the Winthrop House 
is its counterfeit presentment. The house itself, after several years of a sort 
of bui'densome existence for its owners, was removed to make way for the 
Winthrop school building, which serves the double purpose of a school and a 
guardian of the historic ground from invasion for any but public uses. 



HEMPSTEAD HOUSE. 



The oldest house now standing is the Hempstead House, situated on Hemp- 
stead street, and in spite of its age it is still a substantial structure which 
bids fair to withstand the ravages of time for many years to come. There 
is some difference of opinion as to the date on which the house was built, the 
general opinion being that it was constructed in 1646. This, however, appears 
to be incorrect, and Miss Caulkins' history of New London, which is as good 
authority as can be quoted, puts the date a number of years later. In speak- 
ing of Robert Hempstead, one of the original settlers, who came to New Lon- 
don in 1645 with John Winthrop, she says : " The original homestead of Rob- 
ert Hempstead remains in the possession of one branch of his descendants. 
The house now standing on the spot is undoubtedly the most ancient build- 
ing in New London. It is nevertheless a house of the second generation 
from the settlement. The first houses, rude and hastily built, passed away 
with the first generation. The age of the Hempstead House is determined 
by the Hempstead diary. The writer occupied the dwelling, and writing in 
1743, says it has been built 65 years." 

This would put the date of the erection of the house in 1678, and make 
it 218 years old. 



THE COURT HOUSE. 



New London is a half shire town and with Norv^dch enjoys the honor of 
being a county seat. This old arrangement, made when distances were more 
matters of consideration than in these days of steam, brings the courts to this 
city for a part of the year and to Norwich for the balance of the time. The 
old court house is practically the same in outward appearance as in 1784 when 
it was erected and the interior has been but little changed. Within its walls 
there have been enacted many noteworthy scenes. 

In the old days the court house divided with the church the dignity and 
responsibility of the public business, the church brooking no division in spir- 
itual matters, but trenching somewhat on the preserves of the law. Here were 
all the town meetings held, whose records read so quaintly in these days and 
the sessions of the court were also held in the building. Many famous trials 
are remembered by old people and the records tell the story of others. 



42 Descriptions of Illustrations. 

SOLDIERS' MONUMENT. 

Gift to the City of New London by Sebastian D. Lawrence. 

The Lawrence monument to " New London soldiers and sailors who gave 
their lives in defense of their country" is the most beautiful object that meets 
the eye of the visitor wandering about this ancient town on a sight-seeing 
tour. Its proportions have been greatly admired by all, as well as its general 
design. The material used is Westerly granite than which there is no more 
beautiful stone for monuments to be fouiid in this wide world. In confirma- 
tion of this opinion may be cited the fact that Westerly granite from this 
same quarry was ordered for a monument to Bismarck in Germany. The shaft 
and surmounting figure rise 50 feet from the base. 

The cost of the work was about $20,000. It is the gift, as the inscription 
on the west face of the die informs the reader of the " Sons of Joseph Law- 
rence," and its erection was under the supervision of Sebastian D. Lawrence, 
the youngest son and sole survivor of the family. 



BILL MEMORIAL LIBRARY. 

Under the shadow of the granite monument commemorating the massacre 
of Fort Griswold stands the " Bill Memorial Library," the gift of Frederic Bill 
of Groton to his townspeople. It is constructed of Stony Creek granite and 
trimmed with Maynard freestone, is fifty feet long and forty feet wide, on a 
lot one hundred and thirty by one hundred and sixty-five feet, affording ample 
space for enlargement when required. The architect was Stephen C. Earle of 
Worcester, Mass., and Norcross Bros., also of Worcester, builders. The build- 
ing was dedicated June i8th, 1890. The library contains about four thousand 
volumes, issued to card holders free, and is maintained by an endowment fund 
of over ten thousand dollars, also the gift of Frederic Bill. 

From the vestibule aa oaken stairway leads to the historical room above, 
used as a museum for relics and all articles of local and historic interest. 
Here carefully cherished is the sword of Col. William Ledyard worn by him 
during the massacre of Fort Griswold, and which by the hand of a British 
officer was plunged to the heart of this Groton patriot. 



NEW CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, 

Groton, Conn. 

This edifice, dedicated October sixteenth, nineteen hundred and two, is built 
of field stone taken from old homesteads of the town. 

Especial interest is added by there being worked into the front of the tower, 
over the western entrance, stones taken from localities particularly connected 
with the history of this church and town; including stones from the place where 
stood the house of Carey Latham, the first white settler in Groton, and from the 
farm of John Davie, Groton's first town clerk, from the old church lot where the 
first meeting house in the town stood, built in 1703, and from the home lot of Rev. 
Aaron Kinne, "The pastor of the Revolution." Also stones from the home lots 
of every deacon connected with the church from James Avery, James Morgan and 
Andrew Lester down to the present time, with many others that represent the life 
and history of this town as well as church from its settlement down through the 
dark days of the Revolution to the present day. 




The Bill Memorial Library, Ciroton. 




Old Congregational Church, Qroton. 




Soldiers' and Sailors' flonument, New London. 





New London Light House. 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



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